parents

"My baby was here and she was loved and I will not hide her away."

Nina holding baby Zoe for the first time.

 

By NINA YOUNG

I walk into my local shop and I cringe. The woman behind the counter smiles at me and I know what’s coming; she hasn’t seen me since before I gave birth.

She asks me excitedly: “How is the baby?”

I look down because I don’t want to watch her reaction and I reply: “She passed away.”

I pay for my items and get out of there as quickly as possible.

Conversations like this are unfortunately now a part of my daily life; my beautiful daughter died at just 6 weeks old after an injury during her birth caused irreparable brain damage.

There was a study done recently that showed that the day of a baby’s birth is the most dangerous day of their life.

Each year three million babies die within the first month of life, with one million dying on the day they are born.  In Australia around 480 babies die each year before they are even a month old.

These statistics are not something I was aware of a year ago, but now I think about them every day, because now, I am one of them. I’m a statistic. My baby is a statistic.

My pregnancy was a surprise, an unexpected but joyous surprise.

My partner and I have been together for seven years and we felt more than ready to share our love with a baby and to begin a happy family together.

“From the second I saw the ultrasound, I became the model of healthy pregnancy.”

From the second I saw my tiny baby on the ultrasound I became a model of healthy pregnancy. I quit smoking cold turkey, I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol, I exercised regularly, I ate the right foods and I reduced the stress in my life.

I read about every possible risk of pregnancy and I took every precaution to stop them happening. By the time I reached my due date I believed I was in the clear, every check up was fine and my baby girl was thriving.

I believed, as so many of us do, that if I had the perfect pregnancy, I would have the perfect baby. In the western world we tend to focus on the pregnancy rather than the birth because we feel secure that our advanced medical system will look after us, we know that babies might die in other countries, but they don’t die here.

Then came the birth. I was eleven days overdue and was induced, I labored for a few hours and after pushing for more than two hours it became clear that my baby wasn’t going to shift on her own.

They decided on attempting a vacuum delivery with a ventouse.  I was exhausted and had no comprehension of what was really happening.

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I kept pushing with my contractions and after what seemed like an age, my baby was finally delivered.

I knew immediately that something was wrong. She was silent. They placed her on my chest and she was grey and floppy and not moving. She was ripped from my arms and all of a sudden the room was filled with doctors and nurses.

I could hear them trying to resuscitate my baby, no one could tell us what was happening. My partner held my hand tightly and told me everything would be ok, I knew already that it wouldn’t be.

We heard the words: “no heartbeat” and at that stage my brain went into survival mode. Unable to comprehend what I was seeing or hearing, I felt as if I was watching the whole scene happening from above, like it was happening to someone else.
It was five long minutes before she took her first breath.

She was helicoptered to the nearest NICU and that is where she stayed for the first 3 weeks of her life.

Zoe in the NICU.

We sat by her every day and night and hoped for a miracle. None came.

There was nothing that they could do for her; the damage had already been done.

My daughter and only child was not going to live.

We made the decision to take her home and care for her on our own until she passed, we were her parents and she deserved to live out her last days comfortably and surrounded by love.

And she did. She passed away late one night in my arms, we kissed her goodbye and told her we loved her.

That was a month ago. Every day since then I’ve walked around with empty arms. Learning how to feel my grief and find a way to live again.

I’m not telling my story to scare pregnant women. What happened to me was extremely rare and only occurs in about 1 in 5000 births.

I’m not trying to be a cautionary tale, I’m just telling my story, and her story because we are more than just statistics. My baby was here and she was loved and I will not hide her away.

One day when we are lucky enough to have another baby, and I am asked how many children I have, I will reply proudly: ”I have two, one with me and another with me forever in my heart.”

Nina Young is a 28 year old aspiring journalist who currently resides in Sydney with her partner David. She has written for the Sydney Morning Herald and has worked freelance for channel 7.

If you have any messages of support for Nina and David, please leave them here.

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